May 22, 2024: Graduation Address

Let me begin with a bit of housekeeping, by inviting all our graduates and their families here today to please join us for a reception on the plaza immediately following the conclusion of today’s ceremony. 

And I want to welcome you all again. It is always so good to see not just our graduates, but their proud families on this day. 

Now, for a couple of years I’ve tried to begin these comments to our graduates with a little levity borrowed from others, because I was always fairly confident nothing else I was going to say would be remotely entertaining.

So today, quoting from Dr. Seuss: “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. You are the one who’ll decide where to go.”

So, with all that in mind without being obtuse – I’ll continue in the spirit of the great Dr. Seuss.

I promise to be brief as I’m sure you’ll appreciate – as I’m talking to artists who will otherwise fixate. 

A hearty congrats again to our families – who sacrificed and compromised for the good of their progeny.

And so by now, you may well have observed – I’m speaking in couplets which is oh, so absurd! 

But after a decade of graduation talks – I’ve run short on topics and so this year have balked at the usual talks, I hope you’re not shocked. 

I’ve decided, you see, to move forward instead – and provide a lighter launch to your futures ahead.

In that spirit of frivolity for which I am known – you’ll now face the music and reap what you’ve sown. 

You’re wind players and singers in a cast of “who’s who” – composers, dancers, pianists up the wazoo.

You’ve played your recitals and taken your tests – you’ve danced your last dance, and all done your best.

You’ve taken your orals and written your papers – you’ve passed large ensembles, avoided the vapors.

The Breakthrough Curriculum annoyed you I know, but it helped you decide which direction to go. 

There is theory and history and ear training galore – all of your favorites that are part of the core.

But it wasn’t all work, student life could be fun – except when your roommate came completely undone. 

Our dorms were your home for a couple of years – as you leave them behind you’ll not shed any tears. 

You arrived on our doorstep with some trepidation – but are leaving today in great celebration.

You each are unique and deserve your own stanza – so I’ll give it my best, but don’t expect a cadenza. 

You string players are driven and can be quite serious – no surprise as your teachers they’re not so hilarious.

You composers are earnest with creations so smart – but you’re shunned by the pianists who favor Mozart.

Our dancers are athletes and go with the flow – our singers bold, brassy who put on a show.

And speaking of brass, at times a bit crass – they blow their own horns, sitting down on their…

Assessing the conductors who can seem so remote – sitting high on their perch as they count the wrong notes.

And then there are the Jazzers who sing their own song – why do they get to make it up as they go along? 

From Historical Performance to Engineering and Tech – you’ve got centuries of gear to maintain and soundcheck.

Now, if I’ve left someone out point your anger at me – I’ll look in the mirror and say what I see. 

As I now turn this mirror on your leaders, here goes – just how many deans does it take to say no?

Now you see why indeed I’m the dean, not a poet – but I’ve given you my best and today tried to show it.

You should be quite grateful that I recited my rhymes – I could have sung them or rapped them and not so sublime – that would have been as you might well now guess – alarming, not charming and oh, what a mess!

So we open the doors and we bid you goodbye – I know you will soar to the heights of the sky.

And you’ll be relieved as you get up from your seats – that my adventure in rhyme is all but complete. 

Good luck, stay in touch, we know you’ll do great – the future is yours now to shape and create. 

And now for the last time at my behest – I stand before you and declare, class dismissed. 

Congratulations class of 2024!